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What does DeMarcus Cousins’ signing mean for the Rockets?

Well... now what?

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Houston Rockets Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

When DeMarcus Cousins signed with the Warriors on Monday night, my jaw, like many others, hit the floor.

Along with my jaw on the floor was my hope that the Rockets would be able to give the Warriors another crack. And I consider myself a Rockets optimist, so I knew it was bad.

Last night, I was planning to write my reactions to Cousins’ signing and what it means for the Rockets. I was not mad but frustrated is probably the word I am looking for.

For about half an hour, I was shouting expletives to myself and processing the news with my friends in a group chat, all of whom are not Rockets fans, but simply non-Warriors supporters. The Warriors, the back-to-back defending champions, really went out and got the best free agent left on the market for 5 million dollars.

You can say all you want about how Boogie should have gotten more money, or a better deal, or should have waited a few more days for the market to come to him. But, if we are being truly honest, in the scope of winning and losing in the NBA, how you get there does not matter. What matters is who is there, and Cousins is now a Warrior, much to the dismay of the 29 other NBA teams.

Now, this extremely sucks for Houston. I won’t even sugarcoat it. This sucks for everyone, but Houston in particular because their chances of winning a title have now become even more slim than they were before.

Daryl Morey has said time and time again that you are either in the arms race or on the sidelines. Houston pulled themselves in the race last season, but could not catch up. Now, the Warriors have pulled so far ahead that the Rockets cannot catch up — or so we think. I am not saying the Rockets will do anything but you already know the reigning Executive of the Year always has his head spinning for new ideas and simply will not concede.

The Rockets can’t blow this ship up even though there is a fair argument that they should. They have the reigning MVP, just signed Chris Paul to a 4-year max contract and won 65 games the year before. You cannot just take that and throw it away without putting up the fight. Other teams can take the backseat and continue to go along their tanking ways because they are so far behind the Warriors, but the Rockets, the team that was one win away from dethroning them, cannot simply let go now. They are too invested into this title contention run.

So, I woke up this morning with wrestling thoughts and realized that this may not be Doomsday after all.

Yes, it is gloomy so far. However, DeMarcus Cousins is coming off an Achilles’ injury, which has no guarantee of healing, even if he waits six months before coming back. Then, there is the coordination of chemistry and having all five guys on that court could be a curse as well as a blessing.

The one weakness in Cousins’ game is his ability to switch on defense, which the Rockets usually love to try and expose. In a matchup with Golden State, Houston’s ability to switch might push Cousins off the floor in favor of an Andre Iguodala or a Jordan Bell, someone with better defensive capabilities as opposed to offense.

The Warriors don’t need more offense, they need more defense. This is not to say that signing Cousins, an offensive juggernaut, was a bad move. It was the best move they could have made. But in any lineup, he will be the third or sometimes fourth option, something he has never been in his career. This means that Cousins’ defense is going to have to step up if he wants to be a valuable piece to the Warriors.

Meanwhile in Houston, the Rockets have done nothing to upgrade their team from last year. If anything, the Rockets have fallen backwards with Trevor Ariza joining the Suns and the team not signing any outside free agents. But, like DeMarcus Cousins’ manager said,

This is chess, not checkers.

The Warriors started this game two years ago when Kevin Durant signed with Golden State.

Then, last year, the Rockets countered with trading for Chris Paul and signing P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute.

Now, the Warriors have responded with DeMarcus Cousins.

And now it’s the Rockets’ turn to respond. And you better believe Morey is not going to roll over and just let the Warriors steal the Rockets’ championship window without a fight.

So, the ball is in Houston’s court and it is time for them to make their move.